Impact of foreclosures ‘less severe’ in city

Philadelphia has found a silver lining in that gray cloud hovering over the nation's sluggish economy:

Far fewer homeowners here are facing foreclosure compared to other major cities.

That was a finding in the monthly economic report issued Monday by Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

Of the 330,000 homeowners across the country who received a foreclosure filing in October, only 1,512 filings were from Philadelphia, Butkovitz's report said.

The report listed more October foreclosure filings for Chicago, at 4,395; Phoenix, 3,913; Los Angeles, 2,753; Houston, 1,754; and San Diego, 1,733. Those figures mean that Philly fared better relative to population than much-larger Chicago, slightly bigger Phoenix and smaller San Diego. Los Angeles and Houston, which are both larger cities, saw relatively fewer foreclosure filings that month.

"All cities and homeowners are greatly impacted by any number of foreclosures, but in Philadelphia the impact has been less severe and even better than the national rate," a Butkovitz statement said.

For example, one in every 389 U.S. homes received a foreclosure notice in October nationally, but in Philadelphia, the foreclosure notice rate was one in every 438 Philadelphia homes.

Butkovitz said one reason for Philadelphia's relative good news is that the city never experienced the overpriced real-estate "bubble" as occurred in high-growth areas such as Phoenix and other western and southern cities.

"In some states where you had the bubble and the values of the homes went way up above the real value, people borrowed based on those houses' values going up and up and ended up with a mortgage that was higher that the true value of the house," Butkovitz said yesterday.

He also credited the nationally recognized Philadelphia Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, created by Common Pleas Court as a factor in the lower foreclosure rate.

"It [the program] forces mortgage companies to negotiate with borrowers and to work out a way to give them some breathing room so they can stay in their homes," Butkovitz said.

To view the Economic Forecast and Monthly Snapshot, go to

For information about the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, homeowners must call the Save Your Home Philly Hotline at 215-334-4663. Housing counselors are available to discuss options with homeowners.